The Cubs lost the series finale at Washington in a 6-5 walk-off. Here are 10 observations from the game:
- Cubs outfielder Rafael Ortega hit three home runs Sunday, doubling his season total and matching a franchise record. His third was the most dramatic, tying the game in the eighth inning.
- Ortega entered play batting .378 since the All-Star break. He began Sunday’s home run spree with a leadoff blast, the first of his career. Then, he hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning.
- In all, Ortega went 4-for-4 at the plate Sunday, with three home runs and one single. He drove in all five of the Cubs’ runs and accounted for four of the Cubs’ five hits Sunday.
- Cubs starter Adbert Alzolay was efficient in the first two innings, needing just nine pitches in the first and 13 in the second to record scoreless frames. The trouble started for him in the third inning.
- Left-handed batters, Alzolay’s Achilles heel, again did damage in the third inning on Sunday. Switch-hitting Josh Bell gave the Nationals the lead with a two-run line-drive single. Then Yadiel Hernández drove in Bell to make it a three-run inning.
- For the second straight start, Alzolay gave up four runs in five innings. The difference between Sunday’s outing and Alzolay’s last was the home runs. Alzolay didn’t give up any long balls to the Nationals Sunday, compared to the three he allowed to the Reds last week.
- Cubs manager David Ross is feeling out his new-look bullpen after the deadline trades of the team’s three best relievers: Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel. On Sunday Ross went to Adam Morgan right after Alzolay. Including a scoreless inning Sunday, Morgan has allowed one run in his past eight appearances combined.
- The Cubs’ seventh-inning relievers didn’t fare as well. Left-hander Kyle Ryan gave up a solo homer to Hernández. Dan Winkler walked the first two batters he faced before recording the last out of the frame.
- Right-hander Codi Heuer, who the Cubs acquired from the White Sox in the Craig Kimbrel trade, made his second appearance for his former crosstown rivals on Sunday. After impressing Ross in high leverage on Saturday, Heuer put two runners on base Sunday (including an intentional walk) and got out of the inning unscathed by inducing a double play.
- Right-hander Manny Rodriguez, one of two players who represented the Cubs in this year’s All-Star Futures Game, took the mound in the ninth inning. He gave up a walk-off homer to Hernández.
On deck: The Cubs have Monday off. Zach Davies, after all the trade rumors and speculation, remains with the Cubs and is set to start Tuesday at Colorado. In the three-game series opener, left-hander Kyle Freeland is the Rockies’ probable starter.